Tuesday, 29 June 2010

"Climate Fears Turn to Doubts Among Britons"

a recent article in the NYT was right on the button

Last month hundreds of environmental activists crammed into an auditorium here to ponder an anguished question: If the scientific consensus on climate change has not changed, why have so many people turned away from the idea that human activity is warming the planet?...Here in Britain, the change has been driven by the news media’s intensive coverage of a series of climate science controversies unearthed and highlighted by skeptics since November. These include the unauthorized release of e-mail messages from prominent British climate scientists at the University of East Anglia that skeptics cited as evidence that researchers were overstating the evidence for global warming and the discovery of errors in a United Nations climate report.

Two independent reviews later found no evidence that the East Anglia researchers had actively distorted climate data, but heavy press coverage had already left an impression that the scientists had schemed to repress data. Then there was the unusually cold winter in Northern Europe and the United States, which may have reinforced a perception that the Earth was not warming. (Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a United States agency, show that globally, this winter was the fifth warmest in history.)

Asked about his views on global warming on a recent evening, Brian George, a 30-year-old builder from southeast London, mused, “It was extremely cold in January, wasn’t it?”


In March, Simon L. Lewis, an expert on rain forests at the University of Leeds in Britain, filed a 30-page complaint with the nation’s Press Complaints Commission against The Times of London, accusing it of publishing “inaccurate, misleading or distorted information” about climate change, his own research and remarks he had made to a reporter.

“I was most annoyed that there seemed to be a pattern of pushing the idea that there were a number of serious mistakes in the I.P.C.C. report, when most were fairly innocuous, or not mistakes at all,” said Dr. Lewis, referring to the report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change...It is unclear whether such actions are enough to win back a segment of the public that has eagerly consumed a series of revelations that were published prominently in right-leaning newspapers like The Times of London and The Telegraph and then repeated around the world.

In January, for example, The Times chastised the United Nations climate panel for an errant and unsupported projection that glaciers in the Himalayas could disappear by 2035. The United Nations ultimately apologized for including the estimate, which was mentioned in passing within a 3,000-page report in 2007.

Then came articles contending that the 2007 report was inaccurate on a host of other issues, including African drought, the portion of the Netherlands below sea level, and the economic impact of severe storms. Officials from the climate panel said the articles’ claims either were false or reflected minor errors like faulty citations that in no way diluted the evidence that climate change is real and caused by human activity.

needless to say, 'the world's greatest newspaper' (ie the comic that is the Daily Express) is another "right-leaning [British] newspaper" that made great - nay enormous - hay over the Himalayan glacier thing.

Monday, 28 June 2010

them bloody old bill

"Cardinal Bertone angrily told reporters during a conference he was attending at a Catholic University in Rome that not even communist states dared to treat Church authorities and Church property in this way."

yes, i too hate it when the police in a conflict-free, mature democratic state, have a warrant, and are pursuing lines of enquiry about the abuse and rape of children by responsible adults
purely visual comparison:

Goya's Los Ensacados -> Dufflepuds from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

(Pauline Baynes illustration, yeah?)


just, a little bit. just a little.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

last Thursday the Guardian carried an entirely accurate editorial discussing the new UK Budget.

appropriately entitled 'Tough but unfair', it rightly rubbished the line of pleading bollocks George Osborne came out with as he announced his measures.

Tough but fair? This week's budget cannot be that when so much of it is both block-headed and callous.

you can read it here.
writing from Quebec, is there a finer commentator on domestic Canadian politics than Graeme?

i only ask because this recent piece says it all.

brilliant stuff.

some flavour:
I should know better than to click on an editorial in the Globe and Mail by Margaret Wente titled "The immigration debate we don't want to have", especially before I've had my morning coffee. Nothing good can come of Wente writing anything, on any subject, and especially not so on topics like immigration. But because I like a dose of white-hot fury with my breakfast, I clicked anyway.

The piece is exactly what you would expect from a brain like Wente: addressing the "honour killing" of Aqsa Parvez and the guilty pleas from her father and brother, she casts a skeptical eye on the possibility of integrating Muslim immigrants and the "strict Islamic values and a culture of domestic violence" they bring with them into Canadian society. No points for guessing what conclusion Wente jumps to.

Of course, Wente, like so many other so-called defenders of women's rights on the political right, doesn't actually give two shits about women (I intend to pick up on this in future posts). To take one example, back in December, when the Polytechnique Massacre is remembered, Wente wrote a nasty piece for the Globe deriding the commemoration as "an annual excuse for fevered breast-beating over the moral failings of society and the persistent inequality of women" and urged us to "stop insisting they were victims of deep-rooted cultural misogyny".


Even if we are to assume for a moment that Wente is simply as thick as pigshit and not a disingenuous and manipulative racist who justifies her racism on a superficially liberal ethic, and that she genuinely does care about the abuse that Muslim girls do sometimes face in conservative religious homes, she isn't helping matters at all. Anti-Muslim feeling, especially surrounding the veil, in Canada--which Wente enthusiastically plays to--is actually deterring Muslim women from seeking help from the system when they need it and is getting dangerously close to creating a situation where these women will have to make the choice between their religion and their access to what should be the fundamental right of access to health care and education.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


i know, i know, but it's another gem from the world's greatest newspaper. see how the Express brushes aside just about the one unambiguous positive from the new UK Budget (emphasis mine) this morning

nobody can doubt that reductions of 25 per cent across the board – apart from in the NHS and Third World aid, foolishly exempted on grounds of political correctness

and so a wealthy country that can afford - despite its own problems - to give some money to poor countries (aid is not perfect, obviously, but it can and does work) is apparently in the grip of a politically correct paralysis that needs demolishing, and replacing w something infinitely meaner and more parochial.

what a terrible, selfish argument.

meanwhile: The sense that the budget was less fair than it looked was underlined by the soft-touch approach to the City. The increase in capital gains tax was smaller than expected and the £2bn bank levy was hardly suitable punishment given the role of the financial sector in Britain's most grievous post-war recession...Far from being a terrible evil, government spending spared Britain from an even worse recession in 2008 and 2009, and Osborne's doctrinaire approach to deficit cutting risks not just slower growth and higher unemployment, but a fresh leg to the downturn.

Not all the lessons of the 1980s have been learned, it seems.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Saturday, 19 June 2010

RIP José Saramago

Friday, 18 June 2010

Yankee hypocrites put BP boss on a Stalin-style trial, shouts the front page of today's London DAILY EXPRESS (aka 'THE WORLD'S GREATEST NEWSPAPER').


Moscow, March 15, 1938.

file photograph of a condemned man, Washington, D.C., sentenced this week.

16 colleagues were executed alongside the man, known only as 'H', for the crime of making multiple decisions for profit reasons that increased safety risks, having insufficient safety controls at a Texas City refinery, and misleading investigators about the nature of safety standards in the aftermath of a fatal explosion at a Texas City refinery

ETA Here is a little information on the execution of Nikolai Bukharin and 16 other people by the USSR on March 15th, 1938. Using Bukharin's photograph in this way for this post seems incredibly wrong in hindsight, so I apologise.
Forty people have been charged in an investigation targeting drug dealers in one of Newark’s most violent neighborhoods...Police seized drugs, four handguns and an assault rifle during arrests on Wednesday, capping an investigation that began 18 months ago.
Authorities said the criminal network also operated inside Northern State Prison, where a cook allegedly helped an inmate smuggle drugs and cell phones. But they said its main business was distributing heroin and cocaine in two areas of the city’s South Ward: Fabyan Place and the so-called "Chadwick Corridor," which includes Avon and Chadwick avenues.
In an area dotted by boarded-up homes, crime is rampant and drugs are easy to find, Edward Judge, 58, who has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years.
"You go to the corner and without checking who you are, they’ll ask, ‘What do you need? What do you need?’" he said. "The killings have slacked lately, but this ain’t the place to be at night."


Essex County authorities view the Bloods as the most powerful of the seven known street gangs in Newark, and pieces of the South Ward are prized territory for their proximity to Route 78, which is used to transport drugs.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Monday, 14 June 2010

there's a sensible editorial in today's Manchester Evening News about upcoming public spending cuts the UK govt will be making.

it's pitched just right for its very diverse readership (in matters of opinion, let alone demographics), not too bolshie, but gets in enough to convey a strong message.

When it comes to government cuts, local authorities are an easy target.

No one is going to take to the streets in protest that their council isn't getting as much money as it thought.

And, in these difficult times, plenty of people working in the private-sector have suffered job losses of their own and feel their taxpayer-funded counterparts have had it much easier for much longer.

So MEN readers might be tempted to greet news that councils in Greater Manchester are to lose £30m from this year's budgets with little more than a shrug.

That would be a mistake.

Look more closely where the cuts will fall and you find the majority will come from education departments across the region.

So we are not talking about culling a few council pen-pushers. We are talking about removing money from departments that provide our young people with the skills and qualifications they need to succeed.

This is particularly crucial in cities like Manchester. The country
{sic} still has some of the worst truancy rates in the country and only recently have exam results begun to improve.

One could argue that huge amounts of Labour spending on education over the past decade hasn't yielded the results we could rightfully expect. That might be true. But taking money out now is hardly likely to help.

The government says it had reduced council grants as evenly as possible. Yet somewhere like Manchester - with high levels of deprivation - is always likely to suffer more from spending cuts, because more people rely on the public sector.

The city council alone is losing £7m. In order to replace that money, it would have to raise council tax by around seven per cent. That really would get people protesting.

Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, has made it clear that he doesn't expect local authorities to pass the pain on to the taxpayer. He is calculating – perhaps rightly – that voters would rather see services cut than taxes increase. It is a dilemma we will face more and more after George Osborne announces his emergency budget later this month.

The government – the Conservative part at least – was elected on a manifesto of 'tough' measures to get the deficit under control. Now the cuts are beginning to bite, we have no particular right to cry foul. But we do have a right to point out that there are parts of the country – those parts which contain the most vulnerable and deprived communities – which perhaps deserve special consideration or protection. Anyone can draw a red line through numbers on a spreadsheet. Doing it in a way that doesn't ruin lives that are already in the balance is the challenge for this government, and the measure by which it may be judged.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Alex de Waal recently discussed One Foot in Heaven: Narratives on Gender and Islam in Darfur, West-Sudan, an ethnography from 1990's Darfur by Karin Willemse.
(there are more posts already in a series that will be appearing about the book over at the Making Sense of Sudan blog.)

centering on two women who are trying to stay afloat economically and who are mindful of approaching cultural upheavals because of Islamist outreach, it sounds like a rich portrait of remarkable women (the typical is remarkable in a man's world, i suppose, for a start).

de Waal has some ideas about educated young men w no jobs colliding w disinterested (or worse) central govt sowing seeds for later troubles in the region, and recalls his life in Sudan a decade earlier, and how many men were absent from their homes, having, of course, had to migrate.

i want to quote a small section (my very obvious emphasis) because it seems like an exemplary summary of the experience of people 'left behind', wondering about migrant loved ones, anywhere on earth, for the longest span of human history (spread of cheap communications is only recent, etc)

Reading Willemse’s account, I was reminded of my time in the vicinity of Kebkabiya in the 1980s—and the striking fact that in some villages, there were almost no men. Among the farming communities around Kebkabiya, as many as half the men in the age brackets 15-35 had migrated, to find education or work. Many had gone as far as Gedaref in eastern Sudan. In those days, with poor communications, these men had in effect vanished, and their families lived in the hope of receiving some cash remitted through a relative, or their ultimate return after some years of profitable work.

Friday, 11 June 2010

RIP Daniel Greenwood
RIP Samantha Lake
RIP Eleanor Payne
RIP Private Jonathan Monk, 2nd Battalion Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment
RIP my great aunt Mabel.
RIP Chris Dart.

justgiving in memory
RIP Zenani Mandela

Thursday, 10 June 2010

As a form of collective punishment, Israel’s continuing blockade of Gaza is a flagrant violation of international law.

Monday, 7 June 2010


Phil Public writes In the meantime, the dithering of Vince and his ConDem friends is keeping hundreds of thousands on the dole.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

there was a truly ludicrous editorial in the Standard a few days ago.

i'm not linking to the simple-minded Tory rag but to summarise: as bad as the BP spill undoubtedly is, nasty ol Uncle Bama should not be chasing BP legally as it is punitive and that like and anyway it'll hurt BP shareholders and that like.

to paraphrase John Simm in the magnificent State of Play: piss off.

fuck the Evening Standard and fuck British Petroleum.

i have no words strong enough for what sinogrime means to me, early 00s vintage.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

saw Les Mis recently. it was superb.

i like how there seem to be several pieces of music that get recycled and reworked by the orchestra on which characters anchor their songs, instead of a different piece of music for each new song.

riddims in the West End, the Caribbean transplanted to Bourbon Restoration France.

Friday, 4 June 2010

A cow is not killed just for nothing

During the 1930s this expression was universally invoked by Nuer to affirm their rejection of the nonsacrificial slaughtering of cattle and other livestock for purposes of meat consumption...By the early 1980s, however, the expression...had been redeployed by burgeoning Nuer Christian communities in the east to mean "A sacrificed cow is a wasted cow"

Sharon Hutchinson

Thursday, 3 June 2010

(1) David Cameron has said there should not be a "knee-jerk reaction" to changing the laws on gun ownership after 12 people were shot dead in Cumbria.

The prime minister said everything must be done to make sure it "cannot happen again", but existing controls were among the "toughest" in the world.

He was speaking after Home Secretary Theresa May said the government would "consider all the options" on gun laws.

But she told MPs it would be "wrong to react before we know the full facts".


Shadow home secretary Alan Johnson...agreed there should be no rush to change firearms laws but said they should be reviewed.

He said there should be a focus on whether follow-up checks on licence holders were "adequate" and whether there should be a greater role for GPs and the NHS in assessing whether gun owners' mental health was deteriorating.


(2) Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said the Israeli blockade of Gaza is "neither justified nor sustainable"


(3) Dissensian head D_Q has a FB link here to SAVE REFUGEE AND MIGRANT JUSTICE (UK)

Refugee and Migrant Justice provides free legal advice and representation to asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants.

We are facing possible closure as a result of a new system of payment of legal aid whereby payments are only made when stages are closed - which in our case is on average 6 months after work is started and can take up to two years. We are not asking for more money, just prompt payment of what we are due.

he writes in those opening links there's a letter to send to ken clarke the justice secretary